2. Empress Dowager Cixi (1835- 1908)
Empress Dowager Cixi’s reigned during a challenging time for China. The nation was rebounding from the Taiping Rebellion and the Second Opium War. Cixi resented the interference from outside interests and put a stop to China’s “learn from foreigners” mentality. In fact, she cut off ties with the West. This put her at odds with her nephew, the Emperor Guangxu. Cixi staged a coup and seized power from him, putting Guangxu under arrest and sparking the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.
Missionaries from the West were under attack during the rebellion, which was, ironically, squelched by Westerner leaders. Following the Boxer Rebellion, Cixi eases her animosity toward all things Western and turned her efforts toward modernizing China.